This month’s book may be late but it is well worth your attention. Therese Anne Fowler has written a novel on Zelda Fitzgerald. It covers shortly before her 18th birthday to F. Scott’s death in 1940 and slightly beyond.
It details their wartime courtship, quiet New York City wedding, and subsequent move to Long Island, whose lavish parties and extravagant lifestyle inspired Great Gatsby. In a search for quiet life, the couple moved to Paris where Scott became involved with a new set including Hemingway. It provides another side to the Hemingway/Fitzgerald friendship which has made me rethink Hemingway as an author. I knew there was a reason for his macho-man persona!
Zelda’s mental problems naturally make up a part of the storyline. Frankly, they seem as much Scott’s problem as anything which is wrong with her. True, she is feisty and a little wild, but she is nothing compared to today’s socialites and reality TV stars. I couldn’t help but wonder if she would have been happier if she lived nowadays, without Scott’s constant desire to provide for her and to prevent her from excelling in anything she would like to do.
Zelda’s writing was published under Scott’s name, her ballet career was halted, and her painting restricted, at least in the story. I don’t know how accurate a text it is, but I don’t really care. I found the book enthralling and really beautiful. So often the picture that we have a Zelda Fitzgerald is a partial one. Hemingway’s vicious characterization in A Moveable Feast. Scott’s skewed portrait in Tender is the Night. The wild and lost Zelda of the film Midnight in Paris.
Finally, Zelda is given her own voice. And, boy, does she have a story to tell.
This month’s book: Z by Therese Anne Fowler
The holidays call for elegant food. However, the rich stuff you normally eat doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. So how about this for a change: white pumpkin chestnut soup. It’s a great January soup, really. No cream or fat really, aside from a tiny bit of olive oil. It is complex in flavors and very pretty!
The original recipe calls for cooking the fresh pumpkin chunks in the broth and then pureeing and seasoning everything. However, I tend to make an afternoon of roasting, pureeing, and freezing fresh pumpkins in the fall/winter. Especially when I have been given pretty white pumpkins! Standard orange sugar pumpkins will also work. The most important thing is not to use canned pumpkin. It will be too thick and is most likely already sweetened.
White Pumpkin Soup with Roasted Chestnuts
Adapted from Manger
1 large onion, small dice
4 c chicken broth
1 large pumpkin, roasted and pureed
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
20-25 roasted chestnuts, broken into 4 to 6 pieces
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add chicken broth and pumpkin puree to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Add seasonings to taste. Serve with 3-4 chestnuts sprinkled over the top.
I missed posting this for Christmas by a lot. But in my defense, I didn’t decide to make it until Christmas morning after the roast had gone into the oven.However, as it has fruit in it, I am deeming it a “healthy dessert.”
I love a British Christmas. It just seems so ideal to me: Charles Dickens, a roaring fire, steamed pudding, the Queen’s speech, Christmas crackers. Since it was going to be a fairly small celebration at my parents’ house, I decided create something different and special. Standing rib roast, check. Yorkshire pudding, check. Sticky toffee pudding, full of dates and sugar-y goodness, oops.
We had no dates. Continue reading
One fractured family. One summer house. One heart-wrenching novel.
I began reading this book expecting a light summer read about three generations of women. What I didn’t expect was a book that would make me cry in my car. Did I mention this was an audiobook? No? Moving forward, the narrator was fantastic. Her Boston accent was wonderful and she managed to make each character distinctive. I now long for a geographically distinctive drawl to my own voice and may have to make one up.
The novel itself is equally lovely. It takes place over the course of a single summer in a vacation compound along the coast of Maine. With much in common to the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, you aren’t surprised by how the marriage of the grandmother, Alice, turns out or what her relationship with alcohol or her daughters is like. Even a granddaughter who writes is almost identical to Well’s novel. What is different is the lack of sisterhood. These women all live fairly isolated lives. Their inability to communicate with others is what makes this piece unique and moving. Relationships with siblings are complicated enough.
Descriptions of warm, Maine summers with crisp mornings and croissants left me longing for summer already. Or at least a trip up to Kennebunkport (go to Federal Jack’s and get the clam chowder!)
Most certainly a book to add to your summer reading list, if not your winter.
This month’s book: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Am I the only one with a crowded freezer? Black bananas and once-sunny egg yolks wrapped in foil. Yogurt in desperate need of being used. Sounds like it is time for banana bread. With the cold snap we just had, it’s definitely time.
I like banana bread that tastes like bananas, preferably with little chunks of banana throughout. The chocolate should be the gilding of the lily. I also topped this one with crushed sugar cubes, which add a little extra texture.
There really isn’t much to say except that this bread didn’t last more than a few days in our kitchen and we have been hoarding bananas!
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from Gold Medal Flour, I think
1 c sugar
½ c oil
2 medium bananas, mashed
½ c yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 c flour
1 c chocolate chips tossed with 1 tbsp flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
Mix together sugar, oil, bananas, yogurt, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients until just combined. Gently mix in chocolate chips until uniformly distributed. Pour into a loaf pan.
Bake for 60 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.